Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Taku winds predicted for Juneau area

JUNEAU - The National Weather Service is predicting strong Taku winds - northeast winds of 30 to 50 mph with gusts in excess of 70 mph - will develop this morning and continue into the night.

The arctic airmass moving down from the Yukon will cause clear skies and cold temperatures today and into the weekend. The weather service is predicting high winds will continue into Thursday and possibly Friday.

Loose objects such as trash cans and Christmas decorations should be brought indoors. Vessels in Douglas and Harris harbors should be moored as best as possible. If you venture out in the winds, stay alert for debris, the weather service said.

Residential fires keep Red Cross busy

JUNEAU - A fire Monday that left one man homeless and his roommate at Bartlett Regional Hospital was the third in less than a week that required help from the Red Cross in Juneau.

"This is our busiest time of year," said Elayne Boyce, district director for the American Red Cross in Southeast Alaska. She said the organization sees an increase in requests for emergency assistance, mostly because of an increase in house fires.

Last Wednesday, the Red Cross helped people living in a trailer at the Switzer Trailer Park. Thursday, they helped after a fire in the Sleepy Spruce Apartments near Salmon Creek.

Emergency assistance typically consists of finding people a place to stay, food to eat, necessary medications, health items and clothes to wear. The Red Cross also helps famillies plan their long-range recovery, Boyce said.

On the average, the American Red Cross of Alaska provides $1,000 for each family it assists with recovery from disasters, although larger families can require more help, she added.

Juneau's Red Cross office can be reached at 463-5713 or

Tlingit master carver rescued

KETCHIKAN - Nathan Jackson, a Tlingit master totem pole carver, was rescued after losing his boat during a deer hunting trip on Annette Island, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.

Jackson, 66, was reported overdue by his daughter, Rebecca Lakouad, at about 5 p.m. Monday.

Troopers launched a search from a boat launch a few miles south of Ketchikan, scanning the area with a spotlight, said Sgt. Bernard Chastain.

Wildlife trooper Mark Finses saw a distant light flashing from Annette Island about eight miles to the south. The light turned to be Jackson signaling with his flashlight.

Troopers and the Coast Guard found him at the northern tip of the Southeast Alaska island shortly before 10 p.m. Monday.

Snowmobile crash victim identified

GALENA - Alaska State Troopers on Tuesday identified the man who died in a Yukon River snowmobile accident the day before as 23-year-old Clarence Demoski of Galena.

Demoski was a passenger on the snowmobile when it hit a snow drift Monday, throwing both Demoski and the driver, troopers said.

Demoski was pronounced dead at the Galena clinic.

Edgar James Honea, the 16-year-old driver, was treated and released in Galena for broken ribs and bruising, troopers said.

Galena is 270 air miles west of Fairbanks.

Biologists: Highway would affect wildlife

KENAI - A proposal to reroute a section of the Sterling Highway five miles north of the Kenai River near Cooper Landing would have significant affect wildlife there, biologists said.

Moving the road across Juneau Creek between miles 45 and 60 is one of four alternatives being considered for upgrading the Sterling Highway. Of the other proposals, two would relocate portions of the highway south of the river and a third would upgrade the existing route.

The state is not expected to pick a route until next year.

A report prepared for the state released earlier this month said the Juneau Creek alternative probably would have the least impact on fish habitat.

But Alaska Department of Fish and Game commercial fisheries biologist Dave Westerman criticized the report, saying several species of fish are in Juneau Creek throughout the year, including trout and Dolly Varden.

Westerman said the draft fisheries evaluation prepared by HDR Alaska only sampled streams in the area when water was extremely low, and only one stream was found to have fish.

"They needed to look at those creeks during the spring, summer and fall," Westerman said.

Usibelli is investor in natural gas project

ANCHORAGE - Andex Resources said it has signed agreements with investors to explore for natural gas in Interior Alaska's Nenana basin.

Investors include Usibelli Energy, an affiliate of Usibelli Coal Mine of Healy, and two Native regional corporations, Fairbanks-based Doyon Ltd. and Barrow-based Arctic Slope Regional Corp.

Under the agreement Andex, which has offices in Houston and Denver, will continue to be the operator of the project, and, according the Usibelli vice president Steve Denton, continues to own "the lion's share of the project."

Andex said an exploration program is planned to assess the natural gas resources of more than 500,000 acres it has under lease through both an exploration license and leases from the state of Alaska, the Mental Health Lands Trust and Doyon.

Alaska Stryker team gets new mascot

FAIRBANKS - The 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team has traded a bird for a wolf.

The brigade is now known as the "Arctic Wolves" after military leaders granted a request to drop the "Snow Hawk" mascot.

"We just felt that the Arctic Wolves was more in line with our future of transformation," said Col. Mike Shields, commander of the 172nd. "They hunt as a pack, never leave a comrade, hunt and commute over extended distances - in Alaska over 1,000 miles - survive in darkness and six or seven months of extreme cold weather, and hunt and kill any prey that they run into."

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